David James

David James was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 1, 1950.  He was sick when he was four years old.  He had meningitis.  He became deaf because of the sickness.  First, he went to a day school for the deaf.  Then he went to St. Ignatius High School.  He was mainstreamed and needed no extra help.  However, he still struggled in school because he was deaf and African American. 

Picture Courtesy of St. Ignatius High School

Picture Courtesy of the University of Chicago

He went to college at Shimer College.  He got a bachelors degree in Natural Sciences.  He got a masters degree and doctorate degree in math at the University of Chicago.  He never needed extra help in school.  He did not use interpreters or note takers.  He struggled his first year, but he was determined to finish college without extra help.

After college he wanted to become a professor.  Many people did not think a deaf person could be a professor.  However, he was determined.  He taught at Indiana University and Rutgers University.  He had to learn to communicate with his students successfully. 

Picture Courtesy of Business Week

Picture Courtesy of New York University

He was given the Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks Visiting Professorship at Wayne State University in 1987. This means that he was a teacher there.  He was also the Associate Research Scientist at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University.

James is now an Associate Professor at Howard University.  He teaches math.  He is very interested in using math and computers to predict development near transportation.  He is also interested in topology

Picture Courtesy of Howard University


He was chosen as the District of Columbia Disabled Individual of the Year in 1989.   He was also selected to talk about topology at the 36th Annual Jackson Science Lecture at Eureka College in 1990.   James continues to do research and speak to different groups of people. 

Web Links


Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). David James.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences
(pp.197-198). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.